There will be very little narration in this. Does it hook?
May 19, 2110 Jennie, the last three months have been great. Youíre a wonderful girl with a bright future, and I havenít deserved a single moment weíve had together. Unfortunately, I havenít been completely honest with you. I told you I work for AeroSpace, but what I didnít tell you was that Iím a member of the Chara Expedition. By the time you read this, Iíll already be on my way. Due to time dilation, my trip will only take fifteen years, but for you, itíll take sixty. Iím very sorry I didnít tell you, but I never expected things to become so complicated. I hope youíll forgive me some day. With love always, Michael.
My only slightly small nit, is it necessary for Michael to say "Due to time dilation"? It feels a bit like an "As you know, Bob..." sort of thing, unless space travel is a rare occurrence in the world you are creating, I don't think he'd need to say it.
Also, I noticed the messages are one day apart, but Michael is well on his way according to his own message. I don't know what kind of communication they are using or how far away he is, but its just something to keep in mind (probably you are, anyway).
He is traveling at 1g acceleration - working out the math has been the hardest part of this piece. However, I'm using a great website that is a little help - will share it in Open Discussion.
This message is left for her prior to him actually leaving - it is implied that she finds it the next day. Day 1's communication is only 2 mins lag time - it grows longer each day.
I also debated about the "due to time dilation" line - this is supposed to be the first manned mission to another solar system, but that is not explained until much later in story. I would be glad to hear other's opinion on whether this is necessary.
Not sure I am hooked yet, but I would give it a little more time as the format is never immediately engaging for me, but the rewards can be good once the story gets going.
Posts: 2987 | Registered: Oct 2007
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Your writing is very clear and even though I am not a fan of epistolary stories I am actually quite intrigued by what is going on in the story.
The fact that your character Michael appears to be dumping what I guess was his girlfriend over some form of futuristic email/text service immediately casts his motives as suspect. Why couldn't he have told her face to face? Is he a coward when it comes to women? Yet, he seems brave enough to join some sort of space-faring expedition. Or is he a space gigolo leaving a girl at every port, using time dilation as his convenient excuse when it comes to breaking it off?
In the first opening lines there is definitely a build-up of expectations (at least in my mind) that would hook a reader.
My main concern is only over the format you chose. I'm not a big fan of stories told with letters fluttering back and forth because it removes the reader from the immediate action. To me this is particularly true in high-stakes plots because at the back of my mind I am always thinking that things couldn't really have been all that bad if the characters always managed to find time to write things down. To me it's a style that lends itself more to introspection.
I couldn't put my finger on it on the first reading, but I think that the voice of the MC is a bit milquetoast-y. I think if you give him a bit more personality, it would help. After all, he's not writing to Miss Manners; he's writing to the girl he just dumped on his way to another star system.
Posts: 746 | Registered: Jun 2007
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Overall, it's good. However, the first two sentences feel unnecessary. Or rather, they're played in the wrong spot. I'd start with: "Jennie, I haven't been completely honest with you." That is the sentenced that hooked me. If Michael wants to compliment her on how wonderful she is and how he has loved their time together, it can come later in the message.
(Side note: Felt a little weird reading this one because, well, my name is Jenni and my husband is Michael.)
I'll give a little background regarding this story. I was planning on already having it finished and entered into snapper's contest, but my paying job got in the way. I had been reading "Flowers for Algernon" and happened to hear the Elton John song, "Rocketman" (thus I came up with the "Candles" title). The collision of these two circumstances was the birth of this story.
I believe almost all of the above questions are answered very early in the piece. I enjoy word-play in what I write, and this format restricts me quite a bit, unless it is used as an obvious attempt at a joke. The title is my one guilty pleasure in this.
Just to clear things up, the MC is basically the young scientist type, she is his first real love, but he got into a situation where he didn't want to end the relationship and at the same time didn't want to give up the chance to be Neil Armstrong. And this is the real beginning of their relationship.
No time for nits, just impressions: it has great promise, and to me it feels very immediate. The world of the mind (and heart) can be just as real as the external world. I would definitely read on. I'm hoping for a bittersweet love story with introspection, some hard edges, and wise discoveries--with a good dose of tech.
Posts: 780 | Registered: Mar 2007
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